सीधे मुख्य सामग्री पर जाएं

Child marriage and child labour: Slavery is not dead in sugarcane farms


In August 2020, Global March Against Child Labour released an evidence-based report, providing an overview of the situation of child labour with a gender lens in sugarcane harvesting in India. The report highlights that children are pushed into hazardous child labour due to structural poverty among harvesters, most of whom are from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, also referred to as DBA (Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi/Tribal) in this article, because of exploitative hiring practices resulting in debt bondage. It was found that traditional gender-based norms contributed significantly to child labour by normalising unequal wages and unpaid family work.
This article by Gazal Malik and Kratika Choubey* is an extension to the report, focusing on the facets of gender and caste as cross-cutting issues to be kept in mind while addressing the problem of child labour in sugarcane supply chain and in other agricultural crops in India:
***

Caste, Poverty and Child Marriage

Maheshwari and Kavita
Maheswari and Kavita who migrated from Bellary to Mandya district of Karnataka, also known as the “Sugarcane City”, had just returned from a sugarcane farm located 2 kilometers away. Their work was not finished yet. The sisters had come back to the padav (temporary accommodation for migrant workers engaged in sugarcane harvesting) to fetch water for the next morning before it was too dark for them to walk alone to the nearest hand pump. “Will you wait for us to come back or do you want to walk with us towards the handpump?” asked Kavita, looking at Maheshwari and suddenly bursting into laughter. As we walked with them towards the handpump, Maheshwari shared that afternoon is the only time when they can get some water from the handpump because in mornings and evenings the locals don’t let them fill water from the community handpump and hurl casteist remarks at them. “Two of the upper caste men also tried to grope us last week.” said Maheswari while signaling us to walk faster”.
While Maheswari dropped out of school after 5th grade, Kavita was never enrolled in any educational institute. Both of them started working on the sugarcane farm as soon as they learnt to use a koyta (a sickle used to cut cane, also a term used to refer to migrant sugarcane workers). They would soon be married at the age of 15 and 17 respectively, into a family of migrant sugarcane harvesters. When asked why they are getting married early, they reluctantly shared that their parents have to worry about their safety all the time so they will be “given” to a suitable boy and their parents can work peacefully. “I asked my parents to wait for some more time,” Kavita said, “But they told me this is the right age and I am not the only girl getting married at this age”.
After Maheswari and Kavita are married, they will have to continue working on the sugarcane fields with their new family. As has been the experience of many other female sugarcane harvesters that we interacted with, both of these girls will end up working for an average of 16-18 hours a day, in addition to the unpaid labour at home. They are also likely to cut cane till the very last day of their pregnancy, without receiving any maternity benefits such as paid leaves or extra rest time. Statistically speaking, there’s an 80% chance that their children will never access school education and end up in the labour market.
Madhu from Dang region of Gujarat
Child marriage is illegal, yet it is prevalent in regions where farming incomes are low and migration for harvesting sugarcane has been a norm. For instance, in the Dang region of Gujarat, a predominantly tribal area, 33% of the total marriages in 2019 were child marriages, as reported by the rural municipality. Hardships caused by multidimensional poverty and the fear of sexual abuse of young girls are reported as the principal drivers of child marriage in the region. As a consequence of COVID-19, the practice of child marriage is becoming more and more common amongst migrant families because of the increasing debt and decreasing household income. Thus, for children belonging to families made desperate by caste based structural poverty the choices are not many but to engage in child labour, give in to child marriage as a means of survival and avoid being victims of sexual exploitation.

Caste and Gendered Impacts on Child Labour

Kali
Often gripped by the notion of poverty, the discourses on child labour pay limited attention to the crucial point that child labour is a gendered and caste based experience. As a result of adherence to traditional gender roles, many young girls, especially from the marginalised castes suffer the triple burden of housework, schoolwork (or denial of education in most cases) and work outside the home, paid or unpaid. With innumerable obstacles to get decent education and livelihood opportunities because of being born into a certain caste, the gender and caste based injustice and lack of access and control over resources only passes on from one generation to another.
The fact, that women and children remain the most vulnerable and are used as disposable resources for generating maximum profits, speaks volumes about the interconnectedness of gender norms and child labour amongst the marginalised castes. For instance, in April 2019, an Indian newspaper reported that women, most of them Dalit and Adivasi, in Maharashtra’s Beed region underwent mass hysterectomies because many contractors were unwilling to hire menstruating women as it impacts the strict deadlines and production targets when female labourers need to take time off. Similarly, in 2016, Reuters reported that sexual abuse of women cane cutters by supervisors, contractors and landowners was also rampant in western Maharashtra and to avoid unwanted pregnancies, women labourers were ‘encouraged’ to get hysterectomies by family members and employers.

Moving forward with a Rights-based Approach

Women and children from the Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi (DBA) communities suffer from “structural discrimination”, meaning that they suffer discrimination and exploitation on multiple grounds and especially in largely informal sectors such as agriculture. The approach to address this type of discrimination needs to be comprehensive and rights-based. Acknowledging women’s contribution as farmers and labourers and ensuring their rights and entitlements, is one of the first key steps towards addressing child labour in agriculture. Women reinvest most of their earnings back into their households and when they are not paid enough, it is also their children who suffer.
Both the government and the business community have a responsibility towards this and doing just the usual “due diligence” is not enough. Businesses that buy sugarcane and other products from countries like India have to keep in mind the historical forms of oppression such as caste and gender that can contribute to child labour and other forms of modern enslavement like situations in their supply chains. Besides being cautious of a country’s context, businesses also need to take into account the need for additional measures in their actions and decisions to prevent further worsening of structural inequalities and discriminatory social norms. Simply put, businesses must go beyond the minimum standards of respecting human rights at all stages.
In India, COVID-19 has reversed years of gain in the war on poverty and hunger — over 50% households in rural India have cut down on the number of meals, according to a recent study. Extreme poverty destroys a person’s ability to negotiate in the labour market, leading to lower wages, longer hours and unpaid subsistence labour from family members, including children. This is the reality of the post-COVID world and an opportunity for businesses to demonstrate their commitment towards ending human rights violations in their supply chains.

*Gazal Malik is Policy Research Coordinator and Kratika Choubey is Project Officer at Global March Against Child Labour. Detailed recommendations for the government, the private sector and the civil society are provided in Global March Against Child Labour’s report “Paradox of the Sweetest Crop”

टिप्पणियाँ

ट्रेंडिंग

हिंदी आलोचना जैसे पिछड़ चुके अनुशासन की जगह हिंदी वैचारिकी का विकास जरूरी

- प्रमोद रंजन*   भारतीय राजनीति में सांप्रदायिक व प्रतिक्रियावादी ताकतों को सत्ता तक पहुंचाने में हिंदी पट्टी का सबसे बड़ा योगदान है। इसका मुख्य कारण हिंदी-पट्टी में कार्यरत समाजवादी व जनपक्षधर हिरावल दस्ते का विचारहीन, अनैतिक और  प्रतिक्रियावादी होते जाना है। अगर हम उपरोक्त बातों को स्वीकार करते हैं, तो कुछ रोचक निष्कर्ष निकलते हैं। हिंदी-जनता और उसके हिरावल दस्ते को विचारहीन और प्रतिक्रियावादी बनने से रोकने की मुख्य ज़िम्मेदारी किसकी थी?

ગુજરાતના સ્થાપના દિવસે યાદ કરીએ ભારતના વિશ્વપ્રસિદ્ધ ગુજરાતી પુરાતત્વવિદ્ ને

- ગૌરાંગ જાની*  આજે કોઈ ગુજરાતી એ કલ્પના પણ ન કરી શકે કે વર્ષ ૧૮૩૯ માં જૂનાગઢમાં જન્મેલા એક ગુજરાતી વિશ્વ પ્રસિદ્ધ બની શકે! પણ આપણે એ ગુજરાતીને કદાચ વિસરી ગયા છીએ જેમણે ગિરનારના અશોક શિલાલેખને દોઢસો વર્ષ પૂર્વે ઉકેલી આપ્યો.આ વિદ્વાન એટલે ભગવાનલાલ ઈન્દ્રજી. ૭ નવેમ્બર, ૧૮૩૯ ના દિવસે જૂનાગઢના પ્રશ્નોરા નાગર બ્રાહ્મણ પરિવારમાં તેમનો જન્મ થયો હતો. જૂનાગઢના એ સમયે અંગ્રેજી શિક્ષણની સગવડ ન હોવાને કારણે તેમને અંગ્રેજી ભાષાનું જ્ઞાન ન હતું પણ પાછળથી તેમણે ખપ પૂરતું અંગ્રેજી જાણી લીધું હતું.

Under Modi, democracy is regressing and economy is also growing slowly

By Avyaan Sharma*   India is "the largest democracy in the world", but now its democracy is regressing and its economy is also growing slowly. What has PM Modi's ten years in power brought us? Unemployment remains high. Joblessness is particularly high among India's youth - with those aged 15 to 29 making up a staggering 83% of all unemployed people in India, according to the "India Employment Report 2024", published last month by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Institute of Human Development (IHD). The BJP-led government did not provide jobs to two crore youth in a year as was promised by Modi in the run up to the 2014 general elections.

नफरती बातें: मुसलमानों में असुरक्षा का भाव बढ़ रहा है, वे अपने मोहल्लों में सिमट रहे हैं

- राम पुनियानी*  भारत पर पिछले 10 सालों से हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी भारतीय जनता पार्टी (भाजपा) राज कर रही है. भाजपा आरएसएस परिवार की सदस्य है और आरएसएस का लक्ष्य है हिन्दू राष्ट्र का निर्माण. आरएसएस से जुड़ी सैंकड़ों संस्थाएँ हैं. उसके लाखों, बल्कि शायद, करोड़ों स्वयंसेवक हैं. इसके अलावा कई हजार वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता हैं जिन्हें प्रचारक कहा जाता है. भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद से आरएसएस दुगनी गति से हिन्दू राष्ट्र के निर्माण के अपने एजेण्डे को पूरा करने में जुट गया है. यदि भाजपा को चुनावों में लगातार सफलता हासिल हो रही है तो उसका कारण है देश में साम्प्रदायिकता और साम्प्रदायिक मुद्दों का बढ़ता बोलबाला. इनमें से कुछ हैं राम मंदिर, गौमांस और गोवध एवं लव जिहाद. 

Laxmanpur Bathe massacre: Perfect example of proto-fascist Brahmanical social order

By Harsh Thakor  The massacre at Laxmanpur-Bathe of Jehanabad in Bihar on the night of 1 December in 1997 was a landmark event with distinguishing features .The genocide rightly shook the conscience of the nation in the 50th year of Indian independence. The scale of the carnage was unparalleled in any caste massacre. It was a perfect manifestation of how in essence the so called neo-liberal state was in essence most autocratic. 

रैंकिंग: अधिकांश भारतीय विश्वविद्यालयों का स्तर बहुत गिरा, इस साल भी यह गिरवाट जारी

- प्रमोद रंजन*  अप्रैल, 2024 में भारतीय विश्वविद्यालयों की अंतर्राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर उच्च रैंकिंग की चर्चा रही। मीडिया ने इसका उत्सव मनाया। लेकिन स्थिति इसके विपरीत है। वैश्विक विश्वविद्यालय रैंकिग में अच्छा स्थान मिलने की खबरें, कुछ संस्थानों को इक्का-दुक्का विषयों में मिले रैंक के आधार पर चुनिंदा ढंग से प्रकाशित की गईं थीं। वास्तविकता यह है कि हाल के वर्षों में हमारे अधिकांश विश्वविद्यालयों का स्तर बहुत गिर गया है। इस साल भी यह गिरवाट जारी रही है।

नोएडा में मैन्युअल स्कैवेंजर्स की मौत: परिवारों को मुआवजा नहीं, प्राधिकरण ने एफआईआर नहीं की

- अरुण खोटे, संजीव कुमार*  गत एक सप्ताह में, उत्तर प्रदेश में सीवर/सेप्टि क टैंक सफाई कर्मियों की सफाई के दौरान सेप्टिक टैंक में मौत। 2 मई, 2024 को, लखनऊ के वज़ीरगजं क्षेत्र में एक सेवर लाइन की सफाई करते समय शोब्रान यादव, 56, और उनके पत्रु सशुील यादव, 28, घटुन से हुई मौत। एक और घटना 3 मई 2024 को नोएडा, सेक्टर 26 में एक घर में सेप्टि क टैंक को सफाई करते समय दो सफाई कर्मचर्मारी नूनी मडंल, 36 और कोकन मडंल जिसे तपन मडंल के नाम से जानते हैं, की मौत हो गई। ये सफाई कर्मचर्मारी बंगाल के मालदा जिले के निवासी थे और नोएडा सेक्टर 9 में रहते थे। कोकन मडंल अपनी पत्नी अनीता मडंल के साथ रहते थे। इनके तीन स्कूल जाने वाले बच्चे हैं जो बंगाल में रहते हैं। नूनी मडंल अपनी पत्नी लिलिका मडंल और अपने पत्रु सजुान के साथ किराए पर झग्गी में रहते थे। वे दैनिक मजदरूी और सफाई कर्मचर्मारी के रूप में काम करते थे।

दाँव उल्टा पड़ा: राहुल गांधी के रूप में हम एक साधारण इंसान को नायक होते देख रहे हैं

-  अमिता नीरव  संघ औऱ बीजेपी ने राहुल गाँधी पर जो सोचकर ‘इन्वेस्ट’ किया था, उसके परिणाम गंभीर रूप से नुकसानदेह आ रहे हैं। ये थोड़ी अटपटी बात लग सकती है, लेकिन सोचिएगा कि संघ और बीजेपी ने राहुल गाँधी को जितना गंभीरता से लिया, उनकी संभावनाओं को लेकर वे जितना श्योर थे, उतना तो खुद राहुल और कांग्रेस भी नहीं थी।

બે પુખ્ત યુવક-યુવતીન જીવનસાથી બનવા નક્કી કરે તો સત્તાધારીઓના પેટમાં કેમ ગોળો ચઢે છે?

- બિપિન શ્રોફ   “લવ જેહાદ”! કેવો લાગ્યો આ  શબ્દ?  શું મારુ કે તમારું નાકનું ટેરવું તો ચઢી ગયું  નથી ને? લખનાર અને વાંચનાર બે માંથી કોઈના મા-બાપની કોઈ ગરાશ તો લૂંટાઈ ગઈ નથી ને ? એ તો જેને વીતે તેને ખબર પડે? પરોપ દેશે પાંડિત્યમ! કેમ? ખરી વાત ને? 

बिहार के ऐतिहासिक विक्रमशिला विश्वविद्यालय के खंडहरों की परिक्रमा का रोमांचक अवसर

- सुमन्त शरण  कुछ दिन पहले एक सुदूर ग्रामीण अंचल (पीरपैंती)  से तकरीबन डेढ़-दो घंटे की दूरी पर अवस्थित ऐतिहासिक बौद्ध विक्रमशिला विश्वविद्यालय (के अवशेषों) की परिक्रमा का अवसर मिला। विक्रमशीला विश्वविद्यालय की स्थापना पाल वंश के राजा धर्मपाल ने की थी। 8वीं शताब्दी से 12वीं शताब्दी के अंत तक यह विश्वविद्यालय भारत के प्रमुख शिक्षा केंद्रों में से एक हुआ करता था। कहा जाता है कि यह अपने कुछेक अत्यंत अनूठे नवाचार के चलते उस समय नालंदा विश्वविद्यालय का सबसे बड़ा प्रतिस्पर्धी था। हालांकि, मान्यता यह भी है कि अल्प अवधि के लिए दोनों विश्वविद्यालय के बीच शिक्षण एवं प्रबंधन के क्षेत्रों में घनिष्ठ पारस्परिक संबंध एवं शिक्षकों के आदान-प्रदान का सिलसिला भी रहा था। यह विश्वविद्यालय तंत्रशास्त्र की पढ़ाई के लिए सबसे ज्यादा विख्यात था। इस विषय का एक सबसे विख्यात छात्र अतीसा दीपनकरा था, जो बाद में तिब्बत जाकर बौद्ध हो गया। इसके प्रथम कुलपति ज्ञान अतिस थे।